Tuesday, July 09, 2013

3:10 to Yuma (1957 film)

Based on the short story by Elmore Leonard, 3:10 to Yuma is the story about a rancher who accompanies a captured outlaw to a train station where he’s to go to prison while trying to evade the outlaw’s gang. Directed by Delmer Daves and screenplay by Halstead Wells, the film is a western that explores the complex relationship between a rancher and a criminal as they test each other in a game of wits and honor. Starring Glenn Ford, Van Heflin, Felicia Farr, Leora Dana, Henry Jones, and Richard Jaeckel. 3:10 to Yuma is an engaging yet thrilling western from Delmer Daves.

The film is about a notorious criminal who is captured by a poor rancher after an encounter they had as the rancher is tasked to bring this criminal on a train to Yuma so he can go to prison. Along the way, the rancher has to evade a gang who is hell-bent on freeing their leader as this rancher named Dan Evans (Van Heflin) is dealing with intelligence and drive of Ben Wade (Glenn Ford). Though Evans is aware of how dangerous and cunning Wade is as he refuses to give in to Wade’s charms. A growing sense of respect between the two emerges in the course of the day as Wade offers Evans a way out so he can save his ranch. Still, it all plays to mind games where other forces start to create trouble leading to a climax where these two men have to do something for the mission at hand.

Halstead Wells’ screenplay definitely plays to the myth of the west as it is about pride and honor where two different men have very two different ideas about what is right and such. While Ben Wade is a criminal that does do very despicable things, he’s a man with limits as he doesn’t like to kill someone and has respect for the dead. Dan Evans is a man that just wants to do what is right for his family and gain their respect no matter how bad things are. Once Evans is given the task to accompany Wade to the train station, there’s complications not just from Wade’s gang but also people such as a stage line owner named Butterfield (Robert Emhardt) who is a man only interested in money. The people that would become Wade’s entourage all have reasons to want to put Wade in prison but there’s Wade’s gang led by his right-hand man Charlie Prince (Richard Jackel) who is a more wild individual that has no qualms about killing people and such.

Delmer Daves’ direction is filled with an array of exotic images of the American West that is filled with a lot of mythology and ideas about honor. Daves infuses a lot of unique compositions in the way he puts Wade and Evans into a scene to play out the tension while creating an intimacy that adds an element of suspense. There’s also some wide shots to capture the wide depth of field of the scenes in the small towns and such while using close-ups to help play out the drama. There are also moments where things do get very thrilling where Daves know how to create a sense of action but keep things simple but also engaging. Overall, Daves creates a very fascinating yet captivating film about justice and doing what is right.

Cinematographer Charles Lawton Jr. does amazing work with the film’s black-and-white photography to create some unique lighting schemes for some of the film’s exterior scenes as well as some shadings to help play out the atmosphere. Editor Al Clark does excellent work to create some style in the cutting from the use of transitional dissolves to some methodical cuts in the film’s suspense. Art director Frank Hotaling and set decorators William Kiernan and Robert Priestly do brilliant work with the sets to create the feel of the west along with the design of the saloons and hotels of the time.

Costume designer Jean Louis does superb work with the costumes from the clothes the men wear to the dresses that the women wear. The sound work of J.S. Westmoreland is terrific for the atmosphere it creates in the suspense scenes along with the layer of sounds in the shootout scenes. The film’s music by George Duning is fantastic for its sweeping orchestral music filled with dramatic touches as well as heavy compositions for the suspenseful moments along with a title song co-written with Ned Washington sung by Frankie Laine.

The film’s cast is marvelous as it features some notable small performances from Barry Curtis and Jerry Hartleben as Evans’ sons, Henry Jones as a town drunk seeking redemption, Ford Rainey as a Marshal, Sheridan Comerate as a man seeking Wade in an act of vengeance, and Robert Emhardt as the opportunistic stage line owner Butterfield whose only reason to capture Wade is money. Felicia Farr is wonderful as the bartender Emmy who is charmed by Wade while Leora Dana is superb as Evans’ wife who is hoping for things to turn out well for her family. Richard Jaeckel is excellent as the wild Charlie Prince as a man who is seeking to retrieve Wade in order to continue his pursuits as a criminal.

Van Heflin is remarkable as Dan Evans as a man who is full of pride but also a man deeply troubled by his misfortunes as he hopes to gain something despite the temptation that Wade offers. Glenn Ford is brilliant as the criminal Ben Wade as a man who is a notorious criminal but with a sense of morals as he adds a complexity and charm to his character. Notably as he and Heflin have chemistry in playing out their differences as well as similarities as men of honor.

3:10 to Yuma is a tremendous film from Delmer Daves that features outstanding performances from Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. The film is definitely one of the most compelling westerns that is highlighted by its suspense and themes of justice and honor. Notably as it also adds new layers into the mind of a criminal as well as the flaws of a hero. In the end, 3:10 to Yuma is a sensational film from Delmer Daves.

Delmer Daves Films: (Destination Tokyo) - (The Very Thought of You (1944 film)) - (Hollywood Canteen) - (Pride of the Marines) - (The Red House) - (Dark Passage) - (To the Victor) - (A Kiss in the Dark) - (Task Force) - (Broken Arrow (1950 film)) - (Bird of Paradise (1951 film)) - (Return of the Texan) - (Treasure of the Golden Condor) - (Never Let Me Go (1953 film)) - (Demetrius and the Gladiators) - (Drum Beat) - (Jubal) - (The Last Wagon) - (Cowboy (1958 film)) - (Kings Go Forth) - (The Badlanders) - (The Hanging Tree) - (A Summer Place) - (Parrish) - (Susan Slade) - (Rome Adventure) - (Spencer’s Mountain) - (Youngblood Hawke) - (The Battle of Villa Fiorita)

Related: 3:10 to Yuma (2007 film)

© thevoid99 2013


ruth said...

Hi Steven, I love the remake of this one but I haven't got around to see the original. Sounds like I should give this one a go as well.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-It's been some years since I've seen both versions as the original is starting to stick out more than the remake. Yet, both films definitely make a great double-feature as far as westerns are concerned.

Anonymous said...

I love this movie. Heflin makes my Best Actor ballot for 1957, and the film snags a few noms as well. It's a great film, better than the remake, and one of the finest Westerns I've ever seen. Great write up!

thevoid99 said...

@Fisti-Thank you. I'm glad this film just got released in Criterion as I think it's one of the finest westerns ever made.

3guys1movie.com said...

A great Western that does not get mentioned enough for sure. Enjoyed reading your review, makes me want to re-watch it.

thevoid99 said...

@3guys1movie-The Criterion DVD/Blu-Ray is currently on sale at Barnes & Noble. I suggest you get it unless you already have it.